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No-fault divorce to be introduced in Autumn 2021

Couples who are married or in a civil partnership will soon be able to legally end their relationship without having to blame one another, thanks to a new law that will introduce no-fault divorce in England and Wales.

The changes are part of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill currently making its way through parliament. The Bill is due to be implemented in Autumn 2021 and will reform the divorce process, encouraging a more constructive approach to separation, making the process simpler and faster, as well as better reflecting the reasons modern couples may choose to separate.

Under current UK law, separating couples intending to get a divorce or civil partnership dissolution can only do so on the grounds that their relationship has irretrievably broken down.

To prove this, couples wanting to separate need to rely on one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Unreasonable behaviour
  2. Adultery (not available for civil partnership dissolution)
  3. Desertion for at least 2 years
  4. Separation for at least 2 years with the consent of both parties
  5. Separation for at least 5 years even if one party disagrees

This means that one party either needs to accept blame for the failure of the relationship or the couple will have to wait a minimum of two years to legally end their relationship.

How will no-fault divorce work?

The changes included in the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill include:

  • Removing the requirement to rely on one or more ‘facts’ to prove irretrievable breakdown
  • Updating the language surrounding divorce:
    • ‘Decree Nisi’ will become a ‘Conditional Order’
    • ‘Decree Absolute’ will become a ‘Final Order’
    • The ‘Petitioner’ will become the ‘applicant’
  • Introducing joint applications. This allows couples to agree that the relationship has irretrievably broken down
  • Removing the ability to contest a divorce
  • Introducing minimum of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to when the Conditional Order can be made
  • Maintaining the 6-week period between the when the Conditional Order and Final Order can be made

How will no-fault divorce affect separating couples?

No-fault divorce will prove to be beneficial for a number of reasons:

No ‘blame game’

The most obvious benefit for separating couples is that there will be no need to resort to the ‘blame game’. It’s often the case that both parties wish to end their relationship on amicable terms and, by being making a joint application, this will be possible.

No contested divorce

If one party contests a divorce or dissolution, it can often lead to time-consuming and costly court proceedings. The new Bill will remove this possibility, meaning that no-one will have to worry about attending court.

More time to make separate arrangements

There is a lot for couples to consider during divorce proceedings and important matters can often be overlooked. Couples will be able to give more of their attention to making arrangements for their finances, maintenance payments and children.

Will couples still need a solicitor to get divorced or end a civil partnership?

The introduction of no-fault divorce should make the legal process of ending a relationship much simpler and faster, however, it will still be worth seeking the help of an experienced solicitor to ensure all of the forms are filled out correctly to avoid the risk of delays.

Also, the changes won’t affect the process for separating your finances or making arrangements for children – both areas where it is strongly recommended to get expert legal help.

At Glanvilles, our team of experienced family law solicitors can provide the compassionate support and expertise you need if you are going through divorce or civil partnership dissolution proceedings. We can assist with both the legal process of ending your relationship, as well as dealing with financial matters and those involving children.

With strong expertise in alternative dispute resolution, we can typically help you achieve a divorce or civil partnership dissolution as amicably as possible, usually without the need for court proceedings.

For advice about no-fault divorce or any other family law matter, get in touch with a member of our team in ChichesterFareham, or Havant. Alternatively, please use the contact form below to ask us a question and get a quick response.